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Visibility for Foster Youth

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: Something not spoken about regarding oppression, disadvantages and privilege is the privilege people have when they have family.

I grew up in foster care, and I see nearly zero percent representation of former foster youth anywhere in the media or in stories or headlines, unless, of course, it is about someone who entered foster care as a small child and then was adopted into a family.

The problem is that this is a misrepresentation of former foster youth. The vast majority of foster youth never get adopted.

Here are a few alarming statistics: Our homeless population across the country is nearly 50% made up of former foster youth; 7 out of 10 girls in foster care have a child before the age of 21; and half of all babies born to foster youth are taken and placed into foster care.

We have high rates of suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, and early death. Our rate of post-traumatic stress disorder rivals that of war veterans by twice as much. We graduate with a high school degree at nearly 30% of the population, and only 3% graduate from a four-year college.

Every single social justice issue brought forth is about issues that never look at the most pressing and concerning parts of our country and world. With these outcomes, you'd think I would have died by now. Nobody adopted me, and I was kicked out of every single foster home I lived in. And I'm here gaining a degree and raising my own babies.

 

But every foster youth story is about someone who gets adopted. It's never about the outcomes we actually face.

There is nothing about that in public discussions of oppression and privilege.

It is a privilege that people seem to think everyone is afforded -- to have a family.

I think your readers need to understand that, especially when I see stories about people who were adopted and then get reunited with their biological parent(s) in later years.

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